ABC are an English new wave band that first came to prominence in the early 1980s. ABC has its roots in the band Vice Versa, a Sheffield band formed in 1977 by synthesiser-players Stephen Singleton and Mark White.
Title: Beauty Stab
Label: Mercury Records
Beauty Stab is the second studio album by the English new wave band ABC. It was originally released in November 1983, on the labels Neutron, Mercury and Vertigo. The album was recorded over a period of three months between August and September 1983, in sessions that took place at Sarm Studios East and West, Townhouse Studios and Abbey Road Studios. It was a departure from the stylised production of the band’s debut album, The Lexicon of Love, and featured a more guitar-oriented sound.
The difference between Beauty Stab‘s chart statistics in the U.K. and in the U.S. is extremely contrasting. The album’s only single, “That Was Then and This Is Now,” reached number 18 in the U.K., while it stalled at number 89 in the United States. The album itself climbed to number 12 on ABC‘s side of the ocean, while it stalled at number 69 on the American charts. The reason that Beauty Stab made such a substantial impact in the U.K. was due mainly to the album’s makeshift concept about the band’s take on modern England, with Martin Fry and Mark White trying to push their opinions through the buzz of guitars rather than the shiny pop sparkle of synthesizers and drum machines. Every aspect that made Lexicon of Love a masterpiece is absent on Beauty Stab. Gone is the brilliant songwriting which involved Fry‘s clever wordplay and acute wit, the pre-fabricated hooks that are so addictive, and, above all, the squeaky-clean sound from both a production standpoint and an instrumental one is nowhere to be found. ABC tried to implement a slightly hardened sound into their music, but the result came out thin and undistinguished. The single was the only redeeming factor, showing the most pizzazz of any of the other cuts. “Bite the Hand,” “Unzip,” and “S.O.S.” contain small amounts of pop delight, while “Love’s a Dangerous Language” and “Power of Persuasion” tried to recapture Lexicon‘s spirit, but they both came up short. Album sales for Beauty Stab faltered, since fans were expecting a Lexicon of Love part two, but were utterly disappointed. The change for ABC seemed to be rushed, and the band should have echoed the same characteristics into Beauty Stab since the high demand for their brand of lustrous was still alive and well. Only Fry and White remained for 1985’s How to Be A…Zillionaire!, with a handful of session musicians hired to play on the album.
The album was produced by ABC with Gary Langan, who was the audio engineer on the band’s first album. The band employed the rhythm section of Andy Newmark (drums) and Alan Spenner (bass guitar) both of whom had recently recorded and toured with Roxy Music at the time. The cover photography was by Gered Mankowitz.
1. That Was Then But This Is Now (3:33)
2. Love’s A Dangerous Language (3:39)
3. If I Ever Thought You’d Be Lonely (3:55)
4. The Power Of Persuasion (3:31)
5. Beauty Stab (2:06)
6. By Default By Design (4:07)
1. Hey Citizen! (3:55)
2. King Money (4:02)
3. Bite The Hand (3:06)
4. Unzip (2:49)
5. S.O.S. (4:48)
6. United Kingdom (3:19)